Global construction contractor Multiplex has launched a 10-year social equity strategy, to help to address inequality and injustice in the construction industry

Titled ‘Leave no one behind’, the social equity strategy identifies areas of improvement across all aspects of Multiplex’s operations and seeks to ensure the company takes a leading role in effecting change across construction.

The construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the UK, employing approximately 3.1 million people, and equating to 8.5% of the overall UK workforce vulnerabilities throughout the sector.

Despite the size of the industry, issues range from wage theft to unsafe workplaces and accommodation, high churn rates, and the use of agencies to structural racism, lack of female leadership at all levels, and excessive working hours and pressures on mental health. 

Multiplex’s strategy seeks to address key issues across the sector, including:

  • Mental health and wellbeing.
  • Fair employment and prompt payment.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Diversity and inclusion.
  • Income inequality.

The social equity strategy responds to global concerns about growing social inequality, highlighted at the COP26 climate change conference, and demands to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic.

Based upon real evidence, its approach recognises the growing convergence of environmental and social systems, and takes into account the overlap between the earth society and economy, relating to: decarbonisation, digitalisation, the just transition, green skill opportunities, technological breakthroughs and the impact on equity.

‘Reducing inequality and building more inclusive societies’

Callum Tuckett, Multiplex’s UK managing director, said: “As one of the largest industries in the world, construction has considerable scope to lead the way and implement the changes necessary to contribute towards reducing inequality and building more inclusive societies.”

“We believe there is an urgent need to recalibrate, to ensure a coordinated and well-planned response, with social equity integrated into our decarbonisation roadmap and at the very heart of our approach to ESG.“

“Our strategy lays out very clearly the actions we are going to take as a business but also, and more importantly, how we will be trying to influence our supply chain, our clients and wider industry stakeholders to maximise our collective impacts and ensure that no one is left behind.”

By 2022, Multiplex aims to:

  • Implement flexible working across 100% of project sites.
  • Introduce a maximum 14-hour day door-to-door policy.
  • 50% of all graduate intakes will be female.
  • Achieving an average of 35 days to pay suppliers.
  • 100% of projects to carry out initial community engagement within 6 weeks of contract award.

By 2025:

  • Zero exposure to diesel emissions from plant on 100% of projects.
  • At least 10% of projects will be led by a female team member.
  • 33% spending with SMEs.
  • Reduce socio-economic talent gap by providing 50 work placements to disadvantaged groups to address income inequality.
  • Invest in green skills and training, by providing 5 green job opportunities.
  • 10% reduction in labour churn in their first tier.
  • 100% of all first-tier supply chain paying the Real Living Wage.

By 2030:

  • Measure and track the musculoskeletal health impact on 100% of the workforce.
  • 30% of executive leadership team to be female or from an ethnically diverse background.
  • 100% of key materials to be screened for human rights risks.
  • Providing 45 new roles per £100 million turnover (approx. 439 new entrants and apprentices/year).
  • 40% increase in directly employed labour per £1m spent.

The construction contractor has also partnered with ThinkForward to create the 6 week pilot scheme ‘WEX’, to provide work experience for young people with neurodiversity.

Using a variety of guidance measures, the SEND WEX Programme has been designed to incorporate soft colours, easy and fun activities, visual aids, and clear direction, to ensure young people feel safe, comfortable, and not overwhelmed at any point during the sessions.

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